I met with a group of moms a few weeks ago; most I did not know, some of which I had seen in passing a few times but never knew their life story, and a couple I knew a little better. The conversation started by sharing a little about ourselves, what had gone on within the week, the ups and downs of life. The conversation started our pretty light, similar to almost any conversation that is had by a group of women who don’t know one another very well. This light conversation quickly led into a deeper one when one woman started sharing about the loss of her mother and how it had been a difficult few months. Within seconds this conversation made me suddenly realized that I am not alone. While sitting with this group of women I learned that one had recently lost her mother, another it was her son, another lost her unborn baby. I also learned that in this group of women three of the four who had grown children had one or more who struggled with addiction. Immediately I felt at home, I felt safe, and I felt less alone. It is amazing about what you learn when you take the time to hear someone’s story. My church has recently encouraged us to listen to one another stories and I’ve thought really long and hard about this and how I can be a better friend. While I sat I in this group I thought I should apply the church practice. I consider myself to be a more introverted person so this can sometimes be difficult for me. I tend to answer questions of “how are you” with a “I’m good” for fear that the other person would press harder if I said “I’m okay” or if I was even more truthful and said, “honestly…. I am sad, angry, depressed, am having troubles lately, or [insert other adjective].” Not sure I could even imagine the surprise on someone’s face if I wondered the grocery store and gave one of those answers to the produce guy stacking the product. Imagine that scenario! I do have to say though when it’s a friend I am sure they would rather you express how you really feel and get it off your chest. If you say, “I’m good” I am sure they take it for what it’s worth and think you’re good. We are all pretty good, I think especially those who have lost a piece of their heart by losing someone so special in their lives that months or years prior could not have imagined going on with life without them, at putting on a good front. To be honest? Over two years later… do you want to know what grief looks like? Grief looks like this:
- You are reminded over and over again, every minute of every day that you’ve lost the very person that you lived life for. And every time you remind yourself that they are gone it is as if you heard it for the first time. ** Every day that I have to remind myself that this is our reality I am reminded of a story that Grant once told me. He worked for a man who had dementia (his short term memory was completely gone) and was told that each morning when the man would wake up he needed to tell him that he was retired and that his wife had passed away. Grant was just heartbroken at the day to day response that would leave this man feeling hopeless and grieved of the loss of his love and thought there had to be a better plan. One day Grant decided that enough was enough and today would be the day he’d just omit the loss of his wife part. He wasn’t going to lie, he just thought maybe if I don’t recite this paperwork perfectly his day could maybe be saved. He saved this man one day of living in this deep sadness. They spent the afternoon different than every other afternoon. It was spent in chatting about his life, playing a game and having a peaceful lunch. By afternoon nap the man’s memory had been lost again and the story would have to be again recited. I honor Grant for giving this man, even if it may have only been four hours, it was four hours that he was not haunted by this incredible sadness. He borrowed him a few hours of his life back.
- You aren’t content staying at home, but you’re tired of keeping yourself busy. ** Home makes you lonely. It reminds you that someone is missing slamming the cupboards shut, dirtying the dishes, and walking on the carpet with his shoes (even if it were in a tip toe sort of manner.) Well, I’d take a dirty house back any day. And, keeping yourself busy is expensive… enough said!
- A day may seem to be going okay for the most part but somehow a stranger says something stupid and it throws the whole day into one you’d like to do over. ** Reminder to myself that those who have not lost someone they love can say some of the dumbest things… I have to accept that. I wish that I didn’t have to go through this life lesson to learn this. I am sensitive; something you could have said sarcastically two and a half years ago will affect me differently now. I am human, and I am sensitive, and I don’t know how to help the way I react to certain things. I apologize that this has changed me as a person and I wish I could have a do-over. A do-over where I could be the naïve person who hasn’t had the life experience to allow me to write this list.
- You tell yourself that you can’t write another blog post because you feel like you’re saying the same thing over and over again. ** This is what I say: Keep writing, keep telling it, keep saying the same thing because your story matters. A new person may enter your blog world and the one thing that you keep saying may be the one thing that makes her not feel alone. We need to know that we are not alone. And if writing makes you feel better then do it!
- You find yourself at a table of women, women of a variety of ages and are floored at how they can affect you in a way that no other person or therapy group could have. You are reminded that your story matters and that everyone has a story to tell. I walked out of this group being told I was a blessing and that my story allowed someone to heal just a little bit that day.
- This list could go on and on about what grief looks like, and I’ll probably continue to write this list over and over and post it on this blog in some fashion or another… because our story matters and I care enough about the next person going through loss to let them know they are not alone.